"In Cuba, baseball is life," Alonso said with a smile. "I love the history of the Orioles and, of course, [Dave] McNally, [Jim] Palmer and [Davey] Johnson are the names I grew up with in my youth, so this is just extremely significant for me."
Now, the OriolesREACH foundation and Baltimore City Public Schools have joined together to support education initiatives for local youth. The highlight of the partnership is a new integrated summer learning curriculum based on Orioles baseball.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Alonso was joined by several youth from Baltimore City Public Schools, each donning an Orioles baseball cap, who will take part in the program this summer.
Alonso said one of the goals of the program was to combine a successful curriculum with the interests of the local youth, one of the strongest being baseball. Nearly 14,000 students at 84 city public elementary and middle schools will be taught math, reading, science and social studies during 20 hours of activities in the "Learning With the Orioles" curriculum.
"Learning With the Orioles" blends the skills from each academic discipline for each grade level with facts and games related to the Orioles and baseball in general.
"This program both enhances the educational experience of our students and points up the important role our partners can play in transforming City Schools into an entire system of great schools," Alonso said. "Curriculum experts from City Schools and Child First are collaborating to develop relevant, rigorous curriculum for our kids that, with the help of the Orioles, is also engaging and fun. It's great all around."
To date, the Orioles have provided more than 5,000 complimentary tickets to City Schools, and nearly 2,000 students working with the "Learning With the Orioles" curriculum will attend the Orioles game on July 10 against the Blue Jays. During that game, they will receive recognition for their participation.
The O's also announced that manager Dave Trembley, along with outfielder Nick Markakis and his wife, Christina, will visit Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School on Friday, July 10. So far, more than 200 kids from Mount Royal are participating in the summer learning program.
Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.